After 20 years and a bit, Maxïmo Park is still here. The band was created by guitarist Duncan Lloyd in 2000 in Newcastle upon Tyne and the early configuration of the band also consisted of Paul Smith on vocals, Lukas Wooller on keyboard (left in 2018), Archus Tiku (left in 2017) on bass and Tom English on drums. Originally, Archis and Duncan were the vocalists for the band but they decided that they wanted to recruit a singer so that they could concentrate on writing the songs. Smith was a friend of Tom English’s and it was Tom’s girlfriend that first spotted Paul singing along to Superstition by Stevie Wonder and suggested that he joined the band.
In March 2004, Maximo Park released a limited edition 7″ single, Graffiti that was funded by a friend. They later released a number of home-recorded tracks onto vinyl. One of these records made its way into the hands of Steve Beckett, of Warp Records, who promptly signed the band. More tours of the U.S. and U.K., including gigs at Glastonbury and Reading, kept the band busy that summer.
Maximo Park’s debut album, A Certain Trigger was released in 2005 and sold over impressive 300,000 copies. The album was also nominated for that year’s Mercury Music Prize. Musically, Maximo Park are often compared to another band from the North-East, The Futureheads. Early in 2006, the B-sides collection Missing Songs was released; Maxïmo Park also maintained their hectic touring schedule and returned to the studio late that year, teaming with producer Gil Norton.
Our Earthly Pleasures arrived in spring 2007. For 2009’s Quicken the Heart, Maxïmo Park ventured to Los Angeles to record with producer Nick Launay, who gave the songs a slightly rawer yet still danceable sound. In 2010, the band took a break from its near-constant recording and touring, during which time Smith made the solo album Margins. The band’s hiatus continued until 2012, when Maxïmo Park resurfaced with The National Health, a harder-hitting, politicized effort produced by Gil Norton. For 2014’s more intimate, electronic-driven Too Much Information, the band recruited the Invisible’s Dave Okumu and Field Music’s David and Peter Brewis as collaborators. After Smith worked with the Brewis brothers on a pair of solo albums (2014’s Frozen by Sight and the following year’s Contradictions), Maxïmo Park returned in 2017 with Risk to Exist. Recorded at Wilco’s Loft studio in Chicago and featuring backing vocals from Low’s Mimi Parker, the band’s sixth album reflected the turbulent times in which it was recorded.
Today album number seven, Nature Always Wins is released, and first following the departure of keyboardist Lukas Wooller. Produced by Grammy-winner Ben Allen of Animal Collective, the album examines the self, the band’s identity and humanity as a whole. Nature Always Wins‘ title comes from the age-old “nature vs. nurture” debate. Recorded during the pandemic, it comes at a time when people are still taking introspective looks at themselves. Vocalist Paul Smith has said it he wanted to “explore new musical territory without sacrificing our trademark melodic twists and heartfelt lyrics.”
Maxïmo Park pages